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Court of Appeals addresses "temporarily unemployed" wage earner under no fault act

Progressive Insurance Company attempted to avoid paying wage loss to Michael Dobbyn after he was hurt in a car accident.  Dobbyn suffered back injuries that required surgery including placement of a rod and screws along his spine.  Progressive did not deny that Dobbyn was hurt, but claimed that he was not "temporarily" unemployed at the time of the wreck.  Under the no fault act, an insured who is temporarily unemployed is allowed to recover from his own insurer up to three years of wage loss based on the wages he earned during his last full month employed.

The accident occurred on September 20 of 2003.  Dobbyn worked for Graham Construction from May of 2003 until he was released by the company on July 18.    He then applied for a job at U.P. Special Delivery, but was not hired.  He then sought employment with Nicastri Construction, John Bryant Painting, PMP Personal Services, H & H Tube Manufacturing and another company without success.  He also presented tax records to show that he had worked consistently since he was 16 years old.  In the two years prior to the wreck, he had earned 19,000 and 26,000 dollars respectively.  The jury agreed that his 44 days of unemployment following the Graham lay-off did not out-weigh his lifetime of work and render him "permanently" or "indefinitely" unemployed.  The Court upheld the jury's decision, noting that he had provided adequate proof that he was "actively seeking employment".

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